First off, let me start by saying that I'm not Muslim. Nor am I Arab, or Middle Eastern. I'm American, with a Scottish/Irish background. Of course, if you got here by way of my main website, you already have figured that out :) This page is not written with the intent of converting anyone, but is meant to be informative, and to counter some common misconceptions about Islam. I will put up some good links for anyone wanting further information, as I'm not trying to set myself up as an authority on Islam; I'm just going to go over some basics here :)
Since this page was created on January 6, 2002, you are visitor:
First things first, of course...
Islam, nor its followers, neither promote nor condone terrorism. Nor does Christianity or Judaism, although criminal elements from ANY religion may become terrorists for a variety of reasons, and perform heinous acts. Islam, however, is a religion of peace and tolerance. I'd like to invite you to read the remarks of Sheikh Yusuf Al Qaradawi, a renowned Muslim scholar, regarding the view of Islam re terrorism. Click here to go read the full text of his article. Amongst other things, he points out a verse from the Qur'an which reads:
WHAT IS ISLAM?
Islam is one of the three so-called Judeo-Christian, or "Abrahamic," religions.. Many early historians, the "Orientalists," mostly British scholars, initially called Islam "Mohammedanism." This is grossly incorrect. Muslims not only do not worship Muhammad, but would consider it a grave sin to do so. Muhammad was quite clearly a Prophet, a messenger of God (in Arabic, Allah). The Qur'an was the book revealed by the angel Gabriel to Muhammad, as the word of God. Islam believes that other books were sent to other people through other prophets at many times, including Moses and the Torah, and Jesus and the Gospel, in a kind of continuum. The Qur'an is the completion of these messages from God, as being the final and complete whole, and Muhammad is the "Seal" of the Prophets, meaning that he is the last, until the Day of Judgment, at which time Jesus will return and rule over all the earth.
The word "Islam" itself means "submission," coming from the root word s-l-m, "to submit." A Muslim, therefore, is one who submits, i.e. to the will of God. Hammudah Abdulati puts it better in his book Focus in Islam:
The Arab "fatalism" so fond to Hollywood as part of the typical Arab/Muslim stereotype, doesn't exist. A Muslim does indeed submit to the Will of God, but this is attitude is not quite as you'd think. Such submission neither overrides one's responsibility for personal choice or decision making, nor replaces common sense. There's a cute proverb I heard, whose origin I don't know, that sums it up quite nicely: "Put your faith in Allah, but tie your camel tight."
THE FIVE PILLARS OF ISLAM
I'm sure everyone has heard about these, so I'll just run through them quickly here, okay?
ISLAM IS MONOTHEISTIC
Muslims believe in one God... only one. He is not begotten, nor does he beget. Jesus holds a special place in Muslims' hearts and is beloved as a Prophet of God, and the one who will return on the Day of Judgment. Muslims do not, however, believe that he is the son of God. There is only one God, period.
A Muslim directs his prayers directly to God. There is no intercession; no priests, no saints. Man to God, in a direct line. There are Sheikhs and Imams, who have wisdom and learning in Islam, for guidance and to answer questions, but they do not intercede between Muslim and God, nor are they prayed either to or through. The mere idea of praying to someone other than God, Himself, is abhorrent to a Muslim.
These are the sayings and practices of the Prophet Muhammad, which are separate from the Revelation of the Qur'an. They are, however, used as a guideline for Muslims to follow; who better to use as one's measure than a man whom God Himself chose as His Prophet? As such, Hadiith are very, VERY carefully scrutinized and ranked for authenticity. Hadith are reports which have come from those who were actually contemporaries of Mohammad and heard and/or saw Muhammad say or do these things. There are a number of collections of Hadith; the very best are those of Bukhari and Muslim (the names of the those who collected the Hadith and personally researched the sources), and these are considered unassailable as far as authenticity.
As an example of how Hadith is used in Islam: The actual form which the daily prayer takes, bowing, kneeling, reciting, is not actually prescribed in the Qur'an. How the Prophet Muhammad prayed daily, however, was very carefully noted and dutifully preserved in its format for a century and a half. Muslims pray alike, in unity, in congregations, whenever possible.
THE ADHAAN: CALL TO PRAYER
Ever wonder what it is that you're hearing, when you hear the muezzin calling the faithful to prayer? Well, here you go:
Allahu akbar. God is great. (said 4 times)
That's all for now... I'm just starting this webpage, and doubtless I'll think of more things to put up as time goes on. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me at the link below :)
Here are some books and website links:
Islam in Focus, by Hammudah Abdulati
Islam, Arabic & Religion
If you have a strong constitution, try Arabia.com for information you're not going to see on the 6 o'clock news.
And don't forget... if you have any particular questions about Islam, or Muslims, you can always contact the local mosque in your area and ask the Imam!
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This page was last updated on: 07/15/2008
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